Landscaping details can save your home from wildfires, says local firefighter
Photo credit: Madawaska Valley Fire Department
With extreme wildfire warnings in the area, a local firefighter says how you manage your property can make a difference.
Orshy Bartlett with the Killaloe Fire Department says the first step is to see if you are at risk, with higher risk areas including undeveloped woodland or overgrown fields. While homeowners can’t prevent wildfires, they can do some things to make their homeless susceptible to flame.
The first step is to ensure a 30 meter (90 foot) area around your home that is mainly clear of trees or shrubs. This area will help prevent embers from wildfires from finding fuel. Bartlett says trees can act like a cannon that will shoot embers around your home, and having as few trees as possible in that 30-meter area will lower the chances of one of those embers landing on your home.
However, this doesn’t mean this area needs to be completely tree-free. Trees planted in this area should be fast-burning softwood and not slow-burning hardwood. The best trees to plant in this area are maples, and the worst include white spruce, jack pine and douglas-fir. Having water features like ponds also helps curb the spread of fire. Having evergreen bushes in the 30-meter envelope is also allowed.
Closer to your home, Bartlett suggests putting a 2 meter (6 foot) barrier of inflammable material, like rocks or gravel. Plants should not be touching the house, as this will give fuel to the fire to spread. Mulch is also flammable and shouldn’t be used.
Bartlett says these steps will help with the protection of your home, but she also urges caution. She says studies have found that most homes are damaged by wildfires after the main fire has passed, and to protect your home during this time requires vigilance. But she says that following these steps will help protect your home from wildfires.